[personal profile] floorpigeon
You know, I never quite realized that as a tutor, I could be either helpful or, conversely, a Tool of the Oppressor. Ok, well, I realized it, but I didn't quite realize it would be because of discipline, a shameful discipline, according to this article on the uselessness of MFAs and the Writer's Workshop culture: "The workshop’s most famous mantras – ‘Murder your darlings,’ ‘Omit needless words,’ ‘Show, don’t tell’ – also betray a view of writing as self-indulgence, an excess to be painfully curbed in AA-type group sessions. Shame also explains the fetish of ‘craft’: an ostensibly legitimising technique, designed to recast writing as a workmanlike, perhaps even working-class skill, as opposed to something every no-good dilettante already knows how to do. Shame explains the cult of persecutedness, a strategy designed to legitimise literary production as social advocacy, and make White People feel better (Stuff White People Like #21: ‘Writers’ Workshops’)."

It's true, insofar as I support discipline, though not because I'm ashamed or especially think of writing as more self-indulgent than visual art (which is my other outlet). I do find that some visual artists (that is, illustrators) have a much more healthy and pleasant outlook on their work than most writers that work for the paycheck. If I had to do art for money, I'd prefer illustrating Marlboro ads to writing their copy, for instance. I think illustrators have a great gig, mostly because they seem (on the whole) to not have a complex about it and to just cheerfully do it (and many seem to enjoy it without too much defensiveness). High art people may look down on illustrators, but the illustrators themselves generally don't care; conversely, fan-favorite writers have a sort of sordid relationship with their writing, all wrapped up in audience response, ego, and guilt. Or maybe I'm just too familiar with it. Conversely, the MFA 'literature' people have their own (very embarrassing) set of inadequacy/arrogance issues. *sigh* In the end, I think illustrators are redeemed by the fact that the audience response to commercial visual art is less personal; you can be popular, but most illustrators are generally seen as very much secondary to their works. Further, most illustrators are not paid through individual sales (that is, due to individuals buying X copies of their work) but through commissions. All in all, a system much more conducive to sanity.

Though the fact is, run-ons should probably be edited out, you know, but it's not like it's such a Big Deal, either. Just get over it. Ahh. I guess I'm saying that regardless of whether a given example of craft is Art, all art is Craft: is that really so hard to accept? I mean, it's not something to fixate on, or to use as a screen for ego: it's just a fact. Writing is a craft, and editing is needed. Duh. At the same time, I think that people clearly have some sort of ego issue where writing is both exaggerated as 'craft' and as 'art', so that sentences such as this one (from the article) may be composed: "Pretending that literary production is a non-elite activity is both pointless and disingenuous." I mean, really... someone should point this guy to fandom.... Though I mostly agree with his basic point re: the incestuousness of 'high art' lit and the need for a 'room of one's own' for fruitful writing to take place. I will say, though, that writing can take place outside privilege... it is more difficult, surely, but the idea that writers are potted hothouse flowers that require just the right balance of air and moisture and funds to thrive is another ego-feeding legend that needs to die.
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the one who stumbled

January 2015

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